It seems to be a common talking point among some folks in the conservative blogosphere that drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) will solve all our nation’s energy woes, thus lowering the price of a gallon of gas.
However, this myth that some on the right would have the rest of us believe is just that – a myth. Despite their best attempts to paint drilling in places like ANWR as a panacea to all our nation’s energy woes, the reality of the situation is much different, according to energy forecasters within the federal government:
[T]he U.S. Energy Information Administration, an independent statistical agency within the Department of Energy, concluded that new oil from ANWR would lower the world price of oil by no more than $1.44 per barrel—and possibly have as little effect as 41 cents per barrel—and would have its largest impact nearly 20 years from now if Congress voted to open the refuge today. EIA produced the analysis in response to a request by Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who noted that the last time the agency had taken a look at the economics of ANWR production was in 2000, when oil was $22.04 a barrel.
That’s the key point that most folks who support drilling in ANWR don’t want to admit – that even if we started drilling in ANWR today, the oil wouldn’t benefit us for roughly ten years, and by that point, the amount of oil we’d be likely to get from ANWR wouldn’t be much more than a drop in the bucket (no pun intended) of our nation’s overall energy needs:
If Congress approved development in 2008, it would take 10 years for oil production to commence, EIA said. With production starting, then, in 2018, EIA said the most likely scenario is that oil would peak at 780,000 barrels per day in 2027 and decline to 710,000 barrels per day in 2030. Currently, the United States consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day.
EIA said its projection is that ANWR oil production would amount to 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent of total world oil consumption in 2030. The figure is low enough that OPEC could neutralize any price impact by decreasing supplies to match the additional production from Alaska, EIA noted.
The great myth that drilling in ANWR will solve all our nation’s energy woes is just that – a myth – and it’s clear now’s the time to start getting serious about increasing our energy independence through renewable energy sources. We’ve got the brainpower and resources to provide for our energy needs without drilling for more oil or building more nuclear power plants; we just need the resolve to do it.